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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

La Cave du Vin in Cleveland, OH

Now I don't claim to know much about Cleveland; I've only been there a half-dozen times or so. But what I (apparently) learned on this last trip should be enough to help you out on your next trip. More about Bier Markt and Great Lakes tomorrow. Today, a few words about La Cave du Vin on the east side of Cleveland, near Cleveland Heights and University Heights neighborhoods and Case Western Reserve University. La Cave has been in business for almost 15 years serving up quality beers and wines both for consumption on-site as well as for take home. They're located underground down a couple flights of stairs. Above ground and nearby is Grog Shop, Phoenix Coffee, Chipotle, and Winking Lizard Tavern (an Ohio institution). Parking is not easy to come by in this neighborhood. Be sure to have some loose change for the meters if you can find one. It seems that most of the meters will give you a complimentary 15 minutes, so make sure you look for that little freebie button on the meter...and make sure to put in for more time you need, because you likely will need it when at La Cave. Behind the big, heavy entrance door picture lots of wood and stone foundation walls covered in racks and cases of wine and some beer. The far wall is at least five coolers of well-chosen beer from around this country and many others. The space is lit by dim overhead lights and more candles than I could count; the ambiance certainly lives up to its name. To the left is a bar area with ten, or so, barstools. There are, if memory serves correctly, six taps. It's a perfect area for doing beer or wine tastings, accompanied by a limited food menu. Limited, though, in just the right way to be conducive for beer and wine tastings. What a shame that this was the briefest of stops as I was heading back home on a 6 hour drive. So it was quick perusal of the coolers for some goodies to go, a sample of Stone's 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (must get more) and a swish of the Cantillon Iris and I was off...gggrrrr. Oh, and the staff. They'd just opened for the night and only Dana was working at the time, but did she know her stuff, or what? She was a big help with finding the right beers for me to take home, including some J.W. Lees 9, 10, 11, and 12 year old vintage barleywines. Some of the prices seem to be a bit on the higher side (e.g. Bear Republic assorted styles for around $10, or $11), but with the inventory and ambiance, I wasn't complaining. Sorry, no pretty pictures this time...hopefully you suffered through the words. I really didn't expect to be wow-ed the way I was. As far as I can tell from online rankings in addition to my reaction, this is probably one of the must-stops for takeout beer in the Cleveland area. Camera will certainly be in tow next time...and there will be a next time!

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